STADIO SAN SIRO (Milan) – A chaotic night in Milan ended with Atalanta claiming their first ever point in the Champions League after they came from behind to draw 1-1 with Premier League champions Manchester City.
City led early through Raheem Sterling but an incredible second half from Atalanta saw them draw level thanks to Mario Pasalic. Pep Guardiola’s side ended the game with ten men and defender Kyle Walker in goal after substitute Claudio Bravo was dismissed.
Atalanta were afforded the luxury of the ball for what seemed like an eternity early on, but in reality was just four minutes of retained possession.
They were brought back down to earth with just seven minutes played as Sterling finished off a fine swift exchange on the edge of La Dea’s area, finishing off after Riyad Mahrez flicked into his path.
Sterling had the chance to make it two with half an hour played as Kevin De Bruyne got to the byline and pulled back. Set for a simple tap-in, Sterling was thwarted by an inch-perfect challenge from Hans Hateboer, coming from the No.7’s blind spot.
Mahrez then had his own effort stopped well by Pierluigi Gollini as he looked to find the bottom corner with a driven effort.
A penalty was awarded for City after Rafael Toloi committed a foolish foul but VAR intervened and showed that the offence was outside the area, leading to a freekick being awarded.
The subsequent set piece was hit straight into the wall, but Josip Ilicic was guilty of stopping it with his hand and Aleksei Kulbakov pointed to the penalty spot again. Gabriel Jesus stepped up and took a terrible shot which went wide of Gollini’s bottom-right corner.
Atalanta came out flying in the second half though and they drew themselves level inside four minutes. Unsurprisingly Alejandro Papu Gomez was key as he got in down the left and delivered a pinpoint cross onto Mario Pasalic’s head and the Croatian headed home.
The Bergamaschi then kept probing, lifted by their noisy support, and Berat Djimsiti of all people was the next to troubled substitute Claudio Bravo. Gomez’s near-post corner was glanced on by the Albanian and went just wide of the far post.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s side incredibly kept up their pressure and dominated until the 75th minute, completely outplaying City as both sides reversed their roles but Sergio Aguero’s arrival seemed to breathe brief life into the visitors.
Man City were put in a troubling position with ten minutes left though and that newfound life was sucked straight back out of them.
Papu Gomez threaded Ilicic through and Claudio Bravo raced out of his area, was rounded and then hacked down the Slovenian. As the Chilean was substitute goalkeeper, Mahrez was withdrawn in place of defender Kyle Walker who fulfilled the role of stand-in.
Ruslan Malinovskyi fired in the freekick but his effort was deflected and Walker spilled but gathered it with his second attempt with no Atalanta player close enough to pounce.
City did well to keep the ball as far away from their goal as possible for the seven minutes of stoppage time though and their fans were left celebrating a point at the end.